PDA Awareness Day

Today is PDA awareness day so I made this brief info video. Apologies if anyone feels that the video moves along abit too fast and is therefore hard to take it in. If so, this is actually a good demonstration of how the world can feel for someone with sensory processing difficulties, which is often one of the many challenges faced by those with PDA (and other types of autism). Pressing the pause button will help with reading and digesting the information if needed, not as simple in real life!

Paddling Pools and Splash Parks (Herts and surrounding area)

Summer Fun: Parks and Paddling is one of my most popular blog posts and, rather unsurprisingly, has had alot of hits this past weekend! So here is the latest info for this season…

 

● Cassiobury Park paddling pool: closed for refurbishment

 

● Verulamium Splash Park: Now open 10-6pm daily until Sunday 11th September 2016  www.stalbans.gov.uk/community-and-living/communityleisure/play_areas/splashpark.aspx

 

● London colney (Morris Way) paddling pool: opens 28th May. No further info.

 

● Paradise Wildlife Park lagoon: Now open daily. This is part of the wildlife park (no separate entry)- admission costs apply www.pwpark.com

 

● Leighton Buzzard splash park and beach: Now open 10am-6pm daily www.leightonlinslade-tc.gov.uk

 

● Ruislip Lido: Now open daily until end of September www.hillingdon.gov.uk/ruisliplido

 

Of course there are many others in and around Hertfordshire, this is not a comprehensive list! Others I have heard of but never visited are Harpenden outdoor pool, Letchworth splash park/ paddling pool and Hitchin outdoor pool. Plus, of course, there is natural water play such as the stream at Wheathampstead, Stanborough or Cassiobury and plenty of beaches within an hour or two (driving or train) too!

Leighton Buzzard Splash Park

Leighton Buzzard Splash Park

 

Happy splashing!

Haven: Combe Haven, Sussex

I have been to Combe Haven a number of times previously, over the course of many years, and have always enjoyed it anyway, but I have to say it has it has really cleaned up its act in recent years! With the option of lovely newer style caravans (with central heating as standard), great new play areas in Seaview Village, Rory’s Adventure Playground redesigned this season and new outdoor nature sessions for kids too, the whole site has a far more ‘natural’ feel to it than it used to. And we are really impressed with all of these improvements!

A quick tour of the caravan we stayed in (new style)…

Quick outside tour of the site…

 

Rory’s Adventure Playground…

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Play areas at Seaview Village and outside the entertainment complex…

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Nature Walk…

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Indoor activities include arcades, sports centre (not pictured) soft play and indoor swimming pool (pictured from outside)…

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There are character shows during both daytimes and evenings. The seaside squad and funstars were brilliant, they do a great job…

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Character meet and greets…

And last but certainly not least, we were there for Rory’s birthday celebrations, which Squiggle was thrilled about!

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Great holiday, would definitely recommend, and we hope to return again soon!

Highlights of April

Some of our activities in April included art group, music class, dance class, nature walks, several parks, Langleybury Farm, planting in our garden, a variety of creative activities and Easter activities (see previous blog post).

(I chose the song Price Tag because this was the one Squiggle learned a routine to in dance class and so we have listened to it ALOT this month! It also led to a nice discussion on materialism/ priorities).

Easter Activities

Here are the Easter events and activities we did this year…

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Easter hunt at home
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Easter hunt at Highfield park
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Arts and crafts activities at home- Squiggle has improved alot on reading and following instructions!
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Mead Open Farm
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Willows activity farm

March Round-up

Here are our March highlights. I chose the song ‘Wonderful World’ because we went on several lovely nature walks and this song really echoes our appreciation of the world around us!

As well as the nature walks, a few of our other activities (as seen in the video) include a marine conservation workshop by Whale Fest, a playdate at the park, other parks and playgrounds, growing our own potatoes, reading, Aldenham SEN playground, a trip to Willows farm and a visit to Stockwood Discovery Centre.

Willows Farm at Christmas

Squiggle had a lovely day enjoying the festivities at Willows Farm in St Albans. The main downside was that even during school hours it was alot busier than we would have hoped as it seems a popular destination for school trips at this time of year. That aside, we really enjoyed the range of Christmas activities on offer as well as the usual Willows fun.

It was not possible to take full advantage of the developments they have made recently to the sand area, that now includes additional features for water play, but it looked brilliant. Also looking forward to the future developments planned for the adventure playground, on the theme of Peter Rabbit.

From an SEN point of view, we appreciated the fact that disabled tickets did not have the same restrictions as other ticket types on the internet advanced booking system. Such a simple thing made a big difference and says alot about their attitude I feel. So big thumbs up for that! The staff generally seem understanding towards SEN families and have a positive attitude, based upon our experiences there anyway.

Father Christmas was very accepting of Squiggle’s additional needs too, and he interacted with her beautifully. The only issue was the difficulty with waiting in the queue, especially when other customers unfortunately lack the same understanding, but thankfully it wasn’t as long to wait as it can be at times so we were fairly lucky with that. The larger toy shop was a big improvement, a far less claustrophobic experience than previous years!

Overall, really pleased with our visit, fantastic day out. Feeling very festive now!

Here are the photos…

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For more info see their website www.willowsactivityfarm.com

Donna Nook

Amazing day out yesterday, seal watching at Donna Nook in Lincolnshire. Stunning place to visit. Seals arrive at the beach around beginning of November to birth and mate then go again by the end of December. It is an absolute privilege to watch these fascinating animals in their natural environment during this time. The photos, aside from being taken on a camera phone 😉 lol, do not do the incredible real-life experience justice in the slightest. But here they are anyway…

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Take a break from whatever your schedule might be and take a visit. You won’t regret it. Updates are posted by the Warden via their facebook page here

Ruislip Lido

Ruislip Lido is a fantastic day out on the outskirts of Greater London, just outside of Hertfordshire. It has a man-made beach area on the edge of a huge lake (not suitable for paddling, swimming or boating), plus lovely nature walks through woodlands and around the lake. There is also a large range of children’s play equipment and a splash park, as well as a train ride. Near the free carpark is a family pub with pretty lakeside setting.

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Lake and artificial beach.
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Views from the pub garden.
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Woodland nature walks.
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Fantastic range of playground equipment.
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Splash park area for the summer months. (Open April- end Sept).

PDA Conference 2015 ‘Together We’re Stronger’

Hubby attended the PDA Society Parent and Carer Conference 2015 in Northampton today. (PDA stands for Pathological Demand Avoidance, which is a subtype of autism). He came back feeling so inspired and enthusiastic that he even agreed to write a blog post about the day (Hubby does NOT blog and does not usually share feelings so openly; today has clearly had a profound effect on him! 😉 )…

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Hubby busily writing his blog post 🙂

My expectations were blown aside today, my experience was so much more than simply developing my appreciation and understanding of PDA. From the privilege of hearing so many thought provoking messages and hope for the future from Phil Christie, a student and colleague of Elizabeth Newson (I wish he was our Psychologist- he gets my daughter despite having never met any of our family); to the reassurance that- despite all our daily struggles and lack of understanding from so many- WE ARE NOT ALONE; to Neville Starnes and Jane Sherwin’s fantastic presentations. What can I say? Both of them emotionally touched me, their journey’s will stay with me and I know that I wasn’t alone in finding inspiration in their words.

I found the entire day extremely reassuring that there are clinicians as well as parents and carers who truly understand, and can share experiences and guidance. Throughout the day I found myself writing copious amounts of notes… that was until Jane Sherwin’s and Neville Starne’s presentations, when I didn’t lift my pen once. Why was this? It certainly wasn’t because I wouldn’t have wanted to but because both of their stories not only captured my undivided attention but they have given me inspiration that I haven’t felt for years. I wish I had the chance to personally thank them both for sharing their personal roller coaster with all of us. Thank you!

If I had to pick three highlights of the conference it would be a tough choice but I will go with these…

· Jane Sherwin and Neville Starnes talking about their children (although in both cases I had to keep reminding myself that they weren’t actually talking about my daughter!!!)

· Neville Starnes reciting a light hearted blog post on clinical support

· Phil Christie painting a picture of developing understanding in the medical world

Key things from each of the speakers that I will keep with me…

Phil Christie

· (PDA is) “like ASD but…”

· Difficult behaviours and need for control is underpinned by significant social exposure anxiety.

Dr Jo Clarke

· Solve the problem not modify the behaviour.

· Understanding comes before helping.

· Problem solving is collaborative and proactive.

· Kids do well if they can… doing well is preferable.

Jane Sherwin

· Family environment- reduced demands (eg safety only), surround only with those who understand.

· You’re only human and its ok if you don’t cope with every situation perfectly.  

· Take the lead from your child.

Neville Starnes

· Masking is different to coping.

· You as the parent are your child’s expert.

· You can take a PDA child to water but you can’t make him wash!!!!

I met so many wonderful people today and left feeling better equipped to support my family on our onward journey and with a new found appreciation for both the challenges my daughter faces every day but the amazing job my wife does as her full time carer. We are all human, but I honestly think that I found someone pretty superhuman. (Thank you Jane for reminding me!)

The theme of the day was what makes us stronger. During the day we had to write on strips of paper what makes us stronger to make a giant paper chain. I wrote on two, the first “my daughter” and the second “my wife”. But if I could write one more link I would add “days like today”.

Unfortunately I had to leave before the end but would like to thank all the presenters, the lovely people I met and the PDA society for not just a well organised conference, but a life enhancing experience. HUGE thanks to everyone involved.